Since the earliest days, Humanitarian Activities has been a mission of the IEEE, advancing technology for humanity. One look at the illustrious legacy of a founder, Alexander Graham Bell, and his student, wife, president of AT&T, and partner in innovation and humanitarianism, Mabel Hubbard Bell, reminds us of what is possible. They are role models of people who employ engineering to influence great changes in society, and they inspire us even to this day. We have many inspiring role models among today’s IEEE Member-Volunteers including those who organized a recent Women in Engineering (WIE) STEM project consistent with United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4. Quality Education, and 5. Gender Equality, conducted at the IEEE WIE Forum USA East 2019 in Arlington, Virginia.
With many years and substantial efforts in STEM related activities, recent statistics indicate 13% of
engineers are women, and that their salaries lag behind those of men. As the largest professional society of engineers worldwide, IEEE Members have an interest in engaging to improve opportunities for women and girls in engineering. IEEE Members also have realistic experiences as engineers and can therefore serve as mentors in real life circumstances through humanitarian projects, which also serve to put us in touch with our own aspirations – to make a difference in the world through our best abilities – our engineering skills. We can bring our own passion for engineering into our humanitarian activities, such as when we run a STEM program for girls.
The STEM workshop at the WIE Forum USA East 2019 using the Boolean Box, a build-it-yourself
computer and engineering kit created by Boolean Girl, can provide a helpful template not only for WIE
groups, but also for IEEE Special Interest Group for Humanitarian Technologies (SIGHT) Groups and
others to engage their local community.
IEEE SIGHT is a program instituted by the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) consisting of IEEE Members and Volunteers in a global network of local community groups; IEEE SIGHT Groups inspire Members and Volunteers to apply their skills to projects advancing technology for
humanity guided by the UN SDGs.
Use of content: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/SDG_Guidelines_AUG_2019_Final.pdf
Partners in Purpose
Boolean Girl coding classes are a great way to organize a meaningful project in your community.
However, planning a project from scratch can be a daunting task. The recent 2019 WIE Forum USA East Boolean Girl STEM activity was well planned, well attended and provides a great model for others to follow. This particular project came together because of dedication and collaboration between WIE volunteers and IEEE Member Discount Program sponsors.
At the WIE International Leadership Conference in Austin, TX in May 2019, IEEE’s Member Group
Insurance Program partners were at their exhibit booth, when WIE volunteer Felicia Harlow approached them with a smile and a mission. She announced that she was developing a STEM training workshop for the 2019 Women In Engineering Forum (WIE) USA East, and added, “We need a sponsor. Can you help?” Felicia explained that she wanted to partner with BooleanGirl.org to offer coding classes for girls, but that the Forum would need funding to make that happen. Graham Fuller of Mercer Affinity and Michelle Alcivar of The New York Life Insurance Company, along with Lynn Koblin, Sr. Manager for the IEEE Member Discounts Program were intrigued. Without hesitation they said yes, they were interested in sponsoring the new program.
Fuller and Alcivar were already veteran sponsors of the WIE Forum USA East in previous years and the WIE International Leadership Conferences. They had met IEEE volunteers and seen first-hand the
enthusiasm of IEEE WIE members at events. They are also decision makers for their respective
companies, who provide the IEEE Member Group Insurance Program. (Actually, the member group
insurance relationship goes back to literally the week IEEE was founded, in 1962.) The insurance duo had often noted how much they appreciated the WIE program and IEEE’s professional women as engineers and scientists—but also as people who are making a difference in the world. So, when the opportunity arose for them to sponsor a STEM program, that was an easy decision. They were proud to be associated with WIE’s mission.
The WIE Regions 1 & 2 Forum USA East committee obtained the sponsorship funds from Mercer and
New York Life, enabling them to acquire the 40 Boolean Girl kits needed to run two simultaneous pilot
classes at the Forum and to use in future classes. In order to ensure this coding program could continue, Boolean Girl provided train-the-trainer instruction to WIE volunteers, and WIE Forum volunteers obtained funding commitments from MGA to support additional materials and equipment purchases to offer stand alone coding events beginning in 2020. Volunteer Charles Rubenstein and Boolean Girl co-founder Sarah Eastman worked on the technical configuration and logistics for setting up two concurrent training spaces with 20 seats apiece (including back up components) which would take place at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in November 2019.
Sarah Eastman of Boolean Girl
Behind the scenes, volunteers and IEEE staff supported this coding initiative by drafting partnership
agreements, identifying IEEE policies and best practices for working with minor children and ensuring
each registered student would receive a bag of appropriate souvenirs from all partners. As an additional benefit to IEEE members, Boolean Girl participated in the IEEE Member Discounts Marketplace, where they could offer their coding kits at a substantial discount. “Looking back,” Koblin said, “it was worth all the effort. The children had a wonderful experience. But you cannot underestimate the dedication of the volunteers and the strength of these partnerships. It really worked because all parties were so collegial and committed to the cause.”
To continue the initiative in Regions 1 and 2, WIE Forum volunteers are organizing the first local section workshops in Dayton, OH and then will work to share the evolving training model for future workshops throughout other local sections in the two regions. For more information and scheduling of Region 1 Workshops please contact Dr. Charles Rubenstein (email@example.com). For more information and scheduling of Region 2 Workshops please contact Ms. Felicia Harlow (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information about the Boolean Girl coding for Girls program see https://booleangirl.org/.
For more information on how to volunteer with WIE, contact email@example.com to be connected with
your local affinity group or Region coordinator. Contact Felicia Harlow if you are interested in the WIE
Forum USA East.
For more information about IEEE SIGHT, how to organize a SIGHT Group, how to
become a member, and or how to become engaged in rewarding Humanitarian Activities, please explore the content on this website or contact SIGHT directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.